My go-to gift for everyone, from child to husband to parent, has always been books. Each year, more than a handful of people ask me for ideas for books to give to people in their lives. I know it’s late (though not too late for a gift certificate with some suggested titles!), but here are some of the books I read in 2012 that I have been recommending this year:
A Thousand Mornings – Mary Oliver’s new book of poetry is a balm, as is the rest of her work. The slender volume practically radiates wisdom, and I know a great many Oliver worshippers who are looking forward to reading this.
Help, Thanks, Wow – Similarly, Anne Lamott has a legion of committed and adoring readers. Her latest work is a worthy addition to her canon; I read it in a single sitting, wiping away tears, giggling out loud, and underlining madly.
The Anti-Romantic Child: A Memoir of Unexpected Joy – Priscilla Gilman’s gorgeous love letter to her son is a great book for any of us who have been surprised by life not going precisely as we thought it would. And for any of us who have found tremendous joy in the surprising and sometimes disorienting terrain of real life. Which is to say: all of us.
The Light Between Oceans – I loved this beautiful novel, in particular the first half, which contains some of the most breathtakingly gorgeous imagery of light, ocean, space, and the sky I’ve ever read.
Wild – Cheryl Strayed’s memoir lived up to all of the hype. This book is inspirational, comforting, and a powerful testament to the human spirit’s ability to grow, overcome, and see beauty. Plus, Adrienne Rich’s work, The Dream of a Common Language, on which I wrote my senior thesis, beats through the story like a pulse.
The Age of Miracles – I read this book in a plane ride and it floated, gossamer, shimmering, in my mind for weeks. I felt like I’d woken up and couldn’t quite tell if the story, a thought-provoking meditation on change, fear, the wild unpredictability of the universe, and our human need for control – was real or imagined.
The End of Your Life Book Club – I loved Will Schwalbe’s memoir of the end of his mother’s life for the palpable love it exudes for his mother, but also for the ways it celebrates a lifelong love of reading. This book made me want to re-read some of my most treasured books, first and foremost, Crossing to Safety. That’s next on my list.
The Fault in Our Stars – John Green’s narrator may have my favorite voice ever, in all of literature. This book made me weep but also reminded me of the immense bravery and strength that is contained in some of the youngest, most ostensibly fragile people. We all want love, and wow, does Green give it to us.
There are so, so many more books I loved in 2012, and of course a long list from other years. These are just a few that came immediately to mind. If you are giving books for Christmas this year, which?